Bluebell photography tips, hints and inspiration

Bluebell photography tips, hints and inspiration

bluebells photography
bluebell photography



Bluebell photography hints, tips & inspiration

April and May are always incredibly busy months for child and family photographers because of the emergence of the bluebells. Last week I ran a bluebells workshop for professional photographers and we photographed a number of families and children together working on our light, composition and editing. I thought it would be a good time to share some of my top tips for delivering a great set of bluebell images for your clients.

I also wanted to take an opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic images which I have seen from other professional photographers for inspiration – enjoy!


Tip 1: How to find your nearest bluebell wood

The National Trust has a number of bluebell woods on their land but these are mainly used for visiting families and not for professional family shoots. Therefore I would begin by scouting for smaller local woods close to the well known larger woods, as bluebells tend to migrate across areas. A starting point is to visit the National Trusts bluebell page which lists bluebell woods all over the country. Top bluebell woods in Hertfordshire include Ashridge and Heartwood.

Tip 2: Choose the time of day you photograph wisely

Bluebell photography is especially tricky as these flowers tend to grow where the light is dappled. Also at this time of year, the trees are quite bare so you can often be faced with very bright patches of light which can create unevenly lit images. Ideally, you want to photograph very early in the morning, or late into the evening when the sun is lower. If this isn’t possible then shooting when it is cloudy can actually be a positive. You can see from the examples below how different an image can feel depending on which time of day it was taken.

Tip 3: Consider your perspective

You can see from the examples that your perspective can really change the overall feel of the shot. If you shoot from low down you can create a beautiful purple blur at the front of your image. If you shoot from a standing position you can have a carpet of bluebells across the entire shot. It is also important to think about the variety of images you offer your client from a bluebell shoot – close up portraits can also work well because of the dark green and purples in the background.

Tip 4: Lens Choice when photographing bluebells

My preference for bluebell photography is a longer focal length as it helps to create separation and reduces contrast from the often bare trees behind.  A longer focal length can also create that more magical feel which works well with the bluebells. I use both my Canon 70-200 2.8L and my 135 2.0L.
photographing in the bluebells

Tip 5: Editing challenges specific to bluebell photography

I have come across two main editing challenges when photographing the bluebells:

1. Strong blocks of dark colours in the background from tree trunks. I try to remove these from the shot by changing my position, but if this isn’t possible, I often use a gradient map in photoshop to reduce the contrast (see tutorial here).

2. Green colour casts. With my family often sitting on the ground, you can get a lot of green bouncing onto their skin, especially in the shadows. I will use a magenta photo filter painted over the affected areas to remove these.

Tip 6: Styling your family – what to wear

Clothing choice is very important when shooting in the bluebells. Your base colour pallette in all your images is going to be quite an acidic green and a very vibrant purple/ blue. Ideally your clothing needs to fit with this colour scheme and I tend to use neutral tones such as cream, grey, light pink etc. One excellent tool for generating colour palettes is coolors. Here I locked in a typical bluebell palette and then all you do is press the space bar to generate complementary colour palettes.

Tip 7: Protecting bluebells for future generations

Our bluebells are a protected species so paying attention to where you sit your subjects is very important. Look for patches/areas that have no bluebells or use pathways. If you shoot from very low down it is easy to make a path disappear in the camera. Alternatively, you can use the pathways to create some lovely leading lines to your family. As small children are often tempted to pick the bluebells one great tip from Deborah Longmore Photography is you can order a bunch of artificial bluebells from Amazon or Ebay.


Hemel Hempstead bluebell photography
Bluebell photography colour pallette

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Looking for more inspiration for your bluebell photography?

Take a look at some of the incredible bluebell images from a collective of UK photographers below. I have included images taken in the bright sunlight, at golden hour, of families and pets with details of how they were shot.

KW Photography
KW Photography

Behind the scenes with Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography. A newborn baby in the woods. Says Karen ” We had a heat pad to keep her snug and there was another photographer close by. I used off camera flash to give a little pop of light on the baby. Shot at 1/200 f 3.2 at 190mm ISO 100. Edited in Photoshop give it a dreamy look , sort out the stray bluebells and wonky headband. I was very low down and shot through the leaves to give the misty effect at the front”.

Sarah Hart Photography

This image was taken at 7pm with my daughter in Coronovirus lockdown. We found a very small patch of bluebells right next to our home and this was taken on the Canon 70-200 at 2.8. To see a before and after edit of this bluebell image just scroll to the end of this blog post. 

Sarah Hart Photography
Sarah waited until an hour before sun set to get warm light. In post, she bumped the saturation of the bluebells slightly, lowered highlights on the face and removed a few distractions in the foreground (twigs and brown leaves).  Sarah Hart Photography
Little Bunny Photography
Julie Peart

Photo by Julie Peart. Taken at 6.30pm with 100mm lens on the Canon 6D

Amanda Powell Photography
Vikki Brotherton Photography

VB Photography Taken at 8,30am with a 70-200 lens, 320 ISO, f.2.8, 1/800ss

Sarah Greer Photography
Helel Hoffman Photography

Captured by Helen Hoffman Photography Taken on a cloudy day,  F 3.2, ISO 320, 1/1000ss

Roberta B Photography
Nature Nurture photography
angels with dirty faces photography
But Natural photography
Sarah Capon photography

Sarah Capon Photography taken just as it began to snow!

Sarah Capon photography
Shot by Lisa from Wild Goose Photographics ISO 100 70mm f2.8 1/640 . Taken about 9.30am on 24/04/16 on a sunny day at Everdon Stubbs in Northamptonshire.


Sarah Capon photography
Taken by Fiona of Nature Nurture Photography around 5pm on the 70-200 Canon lens.
Sarah Capon photography
Shot with Sigma 70-200 (at maximum zoom 200) in the afternoon (around 4pm) by Ania
Sarah Capon photography
This image was taken at around 10 am – the sun was already quite high but we managed to mostly avoid the dappled light. Mum and daughter had the sun behind them. The photographer kept strictly on the natural pathways in the forest, but due to the low angle at which they were shot, it appears as if they were sitting and running amongst the bluebells. Shot at 70mm 2.8 on the 70-200. www.umoyaphotography.com
Sarah Capon photography
This was taken at around 10.30 am on 70-200 at 2.8, shutter speed 500 and 800ISO as we had a lot of trees around.Anna Kireeva Photography
Sarah Capon photography

Shot on the Nikon 24-70 F2.8 by Kerry Unwin Photography


Dog in the bluebells

Shot by Nina from 3 boys and me Photography on the Canon 5dmark4 and  70-200 f2.8 at f2.8 1/200 iso 250. The dog was speedy and she was lucky to get this shot, but isn’t he handsome! She used Photoshop to remove his lead



baby in the bluebells

Photographed by Paige Anderson Photography this image was taken on the Nikon D3400 on a 50mm lens in Sumner ponds in barns green West Sussex. It was taken at about 2 pm. Her eyes 😍 

maternity shoot in the bluebells
Shot by Carrie from Devonshire Photographic on Sony A7iii in Guildford in May. Loved this maternity session so much fun 😀📷
dog being photographed in the bluebells
Lili the boxer. Taken in the “bluebell woods” Risca South Wales at 8.30 in the morning on a Fuji XH1 50-140mm at 63mm F2.8, SS250 ISO1600
sisters being photographed in the bluebells
Shot 4pm, waited for cloud cover. Sat the girls on a little box in a clear area and got down low. www.sweetbaby.photography
little boy in the bluebells
Shot at Ditchling Common, East Sussex at approx 4pm. It was a partly sunny day, but finding these bluebells out in the open at least helped eliminate the issue of “hot spots”. I turned my boy away from the sun to avoid squinting and any risk of stark contrast on his face plus shooting this way gave the beautiful back light that plays on his hair. Shot on Nikon D750, 85mm lens at f5, 1/800, ISO 100.
Taken by Laura Douglas Photography this was a maternity photography session in West End Woods in May. My camera settings were f2, ISO 250 and shutter 1/800 with an 85mm lens.
Golden light in the bluebells
Taken by  Joanna Sawers at the start of May around 7:30 pm in the evening this is a wonderful example of how shooting in golden hour can create a lovely ambiance in an image
baby photographed in the bluebells
Taken on Canon 5d mkiii, 35mm lens f/2 ISO 200 1/200 sec at 2pm in May 2022
Bluebells and Butterflies photography
Whispering Willow Photography
Little Hat Photography by Laura

Taken a chilly day with hail by Little Hat Photography

Little bunny photography
Stephanie Chapman Photography
Sally Masson Photography
Estelle Hughes Photography

Estelle Hughes PhotographyEstelle Hughes Photography

Carly Sinden Photography
Claire Connold Photography
Deborah Longmore Phootgraphy

Deborah Longmore Photography  Taken at 2pm on a very sunny afternoon with minimal shade on the d7000 with a 35mm

Amanda Voller Photography
Katie Lister photography
Katie Lister photography
Taken by Anna of Anna Backlund Photography this was taken on 13th April 2017 at around 6.30 pm so it was probably a bit too sunny just before the golden hour. She used her Nikon D750 with 70-200 2.8 lens taken at focal length 200mm , ISO 500, shutter 1/1000.


Taken by Nina from www.3boysandmephotography.co.uk  f1.8, 1/400 ISO 100 on my 50mm 1.4 canon lens (cannon 5diii)
Taken on the 15th April last year at 3 pm in the afternoon


Taken by Rachel Hughes. Camera settings: F-stop f/2.8, Exposure 1/400, Focal length 200mm, ISO 1250. Lens: Nikon 70-200mm 2.8, Body: Nikon D750

” Taken at 6:30 pm, my daughter and I were the only ones in the woods and it was magical! Shot from down low so you can’t see the plastic bag she was sitting on, as it was a little wet underfoot 🙂 “


Taken by Clare Harding Photography around 8am in a very low to hide the paths and bare patches that the girls were stood on.

Taken by Louise Ferguson Photography of her daughter on the Canon 5dMkIV. Her camera settings were ISO – 100, f1.9, 1/100, shot in early April, mid-afternoon in our local woodland. Sussex.

Taken at about 3.30pm in West Sussex, 85mm f/4.5 1/200 ISO 250.  www.brightography.com

Bluebells tend to flower a little later in Scotland and this image was taken by Nadine Boyd in Mid-May. Shot on the Canon 5D MkIV at 4pm and my 135mm lens. My settings were ISO 200, f2.8 and 1/500. 

examples of bluebell photography

This bluebell image was taken in a copse near Basingstoke by Sarah Dutton. It was shot on a Canon mark 5d Mark IV. Sarah has been photographing the brother and sister since newborns and loves to capture the relationship between them

Little girl in yellow top sitting in the bluebells
Photographed by Bernadette Early Photography This was taken on a walk-in Derbyshire with a Nikon D750 70-200mm lens. She loves this lens for its creamy background.
protecting the bluebells on a photoshoot
“This was shot on my 85mm lens which I love! In Beckenham Place Park early morning to avoid the sun.” Image by Tessa Clements 
little girl running in bluebells in Beaconsfield
Taken about 10 am in South Buckinghamshire by Jenny Kaye Photography on a Canon 5d IV and 24-70 mm lens at f 3.5 1/320th and ISO 400
family portrait in the bluebells
The Cook Family have been coming to Minah Photography  for a few years now and this year they added to their family with their new pup Teddy! “He is so fluffy and was definitely happy to be photographed. It’s been my pleasure to capture these memories over the years for them.”
little girls potrait in bluebells
“Shot at 6pm on my nikon D610 with 70-200 lens at 200 and 2.8f. I upped my ISO to 800 as it was a little dark and shutter speed 1/320” By Anna Kireeva Photography 
Bluebell photography ideas

Kate took this image during a mother / daughter shoot ; they had booked her to come to their beautiful garden in the East-end of Glasgow. When she arrived, she was asked if she wanted to also take some shots in the woodland area at the back of the house. They ended up hiking through some pretty wild undergrowth to get to the bluebells but it was worth it! 

It was an evening shoot at the beginning of June (the bluebells were VERY late in Scotland last year). It was a lovely cloudy warm evening! The best kind!  www.katemcallisterphotography.com
Bluebell photography examples

Shoot in the morning in the bluebell woods in Hampshire, Nikon 1.8, 1/400 85mm lens. The little boy is on a path collecting eggs in the forest to try capture a more natural picture.    www.laurawhitephotography.com

little girl in the bluebell woods

Here’s an image playing hide and seek in my local village at sunset using my 85mm. www.amypitfieldphotography.co.uk

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Bluebell editing – before & after

A number of photographers also asked if I could share a before and after edit so here is my latest 2020 bluebell image.

 This was taken at 7pm right next to my home in Surrey. It was shot on my Canon 70-200 at 2.8 aperture and as you can see the light in the final edit is the same as it was straight out of camera.

For my edit I changed the hue of the greens in Adobe Camera Raw and then I flipped the background to remove the road. I then used curves to add some more depth to the shadows.

I do offer free shooting & editing tips in my Facebook Group and you can subscribe to my blog below. I also offer 1-2-1 and group editing training. 


    Heartwood Forest competition winner :-)

    winning image blubells I love photographing outdoors and one of the places I like to visit with customers is Heartwood Forest which is just outside of St Albans.  The site itself is 858 acres and is part of a project which started many years ago to transform  the site into the largest new continuous native forest in England. Incredibly, it takes just 12 years to turn bare land into flourishing native woodland, complete with a diverse range of wildlife and towering trees.

    Each year they run a competition for images taken in the forest and I was really pleased to find out I had been awarded 1st prize. You can read more about Heartwood forest here http://heartwoodforest.wordpress.com/about/ and see the other images in the competition here. This was my winning image taken earlier in the year in the bluebells.

    www.ninamacephotography.com  Nina Mace, Hemel Hempstead Photographer 2014.

    Location hunting with my kids :-)

    Every so often I ask (by that I mean bribe :-)) my kids to come out with me for the evening to test a location. One night I wanted to go up to Heartwood Forest late into the afternoon to see how it looked around the golden hour. The kids had a great time just running around and we also met up with my friend Stephanie, who is also a photographer, checking out the light for her session the following evening. My daughter took a bit of a liking to her husband and spent a while making him pick flowers (not very manly!). As you can see after about 30 minutes they had had enough and resorted to being crazy..see the final photo that’s a keeper!! 🙂

    Hemel Hempstead photographer

    Location testing at Heartwood Forest




    Out in the bluebells at Heartwood Forest

    Despite the weather being awful again I’ve managed to get in a couple of trips to the bluebell forest at Heartwood. The first day it was around midday so lots of dappled light (dark and light spots) and the second time was in the evening after school. The sun was in, then out, then in, then out again which meant I got a great variety of differently lit shots. Some of my favourites are shown below I must say that our woods look very pretty at this time of year ( and check out how many teeth my son has lost now!!! thats a lot of gaps 🙂

    hotos of children in the bluebells in Heartwood Forest just outside of St Albans